30 Small Businesses You Can Start With Little Capital in Nigeria

small businesses
Reading Time: 17 minutes


So you got here because you are searching for ideas about small businesses you can do and make good profits.  If so, you are in the right place.

In this blog we discuss anything business, entrepreneurship, investing and personal finance. And in this post, I’ll be sharing about 30 small business ideas that you can easily start in different sectors of the economy and make good money.

Why Start a Small Business?

There are as many reasons for starting a business as there are budding entrepreneurs.  People are motivated by different factors.  Some it is the satisfaction they derive from being independent.  For others it is the desire to make enough and achieve financial freedom.

In Nigeria, many people now desire to start their own small businesses because of increasing rate of unemployment.

Unemployment is officially estimated at about 33.5%.  But unofficial sources put at over 50%.  In order words, 50% of people who are qualified, available and willing to work cannot find work to do. Yet some of the jobs available are not even worth having. A

s a result, many people will rather start their own businesses than wait for unavailable jobs.  Or work in one that is not worth having.

Those who have the opportunities are choosing to leave the country in droves.

However, the growing number of Nigerians who wish to start a business often face the challenge of identifying profitable small businesses they can start with very minimal investment.

This is the focus of this blog post.  In this post, I will highlight 121 small businesses any one can start with very little capital and make good money.

Some of the businesses may involve you rendering services to clients outside Nigeria.  Sure you will want to earn in dollars and wonder how you will receive payment. Don’t worry, with wise money transfer, you can receive payment in Dollar from any part of the world.

30 Small  Businesses In Nigeria You Can Start With little Capital

The small businesses we identify here are scalable. In other words, you can operate at levels your immediate financial capacity can carry.  And thereafter, grow to larger scales as you make progress and raise more funding. For ease of identification, I have grouped the busienesses into: Retail and distributive Trade, Light Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing.  Others are: Agricultural Production, Services and Online/Digital Businesses.

Retail and Distributive Trade

#1  Sale of Drinks and Water

Everybody drink water and almost everybody drink non-alcoholic beverages, usually called soft drinks in Nigeria. Your market is the many retail shops in your locality, restaurants, bars, mini fast foods spots and individuals who buy in crates and packs for household consumption.

To do this business successfully, you have to develop a regular source of supply. In this regard, you will develop a relationship with major distributors and wholesalers who will give you the drinks and packaged water with discounts; you deliver directly to these retailers identified above with some margin.

The more quantity you are able to supply, the more profit you will make.

To start this business, you will need a cart, some empty crates and cash to buy the drinks. When you develop good relationships with the distributors, you may have access to credit.  If you already have a car, you can convert it to your distribution van.  There are a variety of drinks you can supply. Do your market survey of your area to know which people buy most and concentrate on those ones.

Also Read: How to Make Money Producing and Selling Sachet Water

#2  Bread Supply and Distribution

People eat bread on a daily basis all year round.  The demand for bread is so high that a variety of them has come to the market.  You can do this business by identifying good bakery to buy from and sell to retailers.  All you need is a vehicle with which to distribute your bread and then create a market with shops and supermarket owners scattered all around you.

You can start this business with less than N100,000, if you already have a personal car and scale up when you have been able to develop a large number of retailers to whom you supply.  If presently do not have a car, not to worry.  You can start by hiring a vehicle to deliver your bread and get a delivery van when you have built up the financial capacity.

#3  Eggs Supply and Distribution

Egg is a rich source of protein and is consumed all over the world.  Apart from its dietary needs, eggs are used to make many products such as confectioneries, cosmetics, soaps, hair conditioners, shampoo, glue and face masks amongst many others.  The uses of egg are so numerous that supply is hardly enough to meet demand.

Supply of egg is a business that can be started in small scale and grow to become a big venture.  If you want to go into this business, the first thing you must do is to identify poultry farms that produce quality eggs and/or large egg distributors. You buy from these farms or distributors and supply to retail shops, supermarkets, fast food joints, bakers and even households.  

Then develop a network of buyers who are many and varied around your neighborhood.  What you will need to succeed in this business are empty egg crates and a delivery van. Minus the delivery van, you can start this business with less than N100,000.  If you have a vehicle already, you can go into this business straight away but if you don’t have a vehicle, you can still start by using a cart to deliver your goods and later acquire a used vehicle.

#4  Sale of Mobile Phone Accessories

This is a very lucrative business you can start with small capital.  With as little as N50,000 you are in business. 

While you will do well by renting a space if you have the money, this business can also be done in mobile fashion i.e by carrying your products to places they are needed.  In this case, you have to first identify your market and feed them with their needs. 

What drives this business is the rapid growth in the use of mobile phones in Nigeria.  Nigeria has an estimated population of over 200 million people.  Over 180 million of this population is connected through the mobile phone line. 

A certain study showed that most Nigerians carry two phones in spite of the influx of dual SIM phones.

Accessories that are in common demand include batteries, memory cards, battery charges, ear pieces, screen guards, pouches, etc.  You can get your supplies from Computer Village in Lagos or online through the many online stores. 

You can also import these accessories through the many international ecommerce stores.  As matter of fact, the mobile phone and accessories business is one sure of way of getting into online importation business. What is commonly known in Nigeria as mini importation.

#5  Mini Importation

The internet has redefined trade and commerce.  Many people have struck gold by importing items online through eCommerce sites like Alibaba, Aliexperess DHgate, global sources, etc. With less than N100,000 you can start this business. 

What you have to do is identify the little, little things that people need; search these eCommerce sites, find a procurement agent who will buy the items and send to you, sell locally and make your profits. 

Even with the falling value of the Naira, people who are engaged in this business still smile to the bank. Items you can import and many varied and may include: mobile phone accessories, cosmetics, fashion items, etc

#6  Food Cart/Mobile Food Business

Food is one of the primary needs of man.  Whatever the condition is with a man, he must eat.  As a result food business will always be a lucrative one.  You can enter food business through mobile food vending. 

The key to success here is to differentiate yourself by choosing a specialty menu, a niche and a market segment.  You cannot be everything to everybody.  Select your market carefully where the returns is higher. 

For example, you can choose to serve workers of big organizations like banks, oil and gas companies, and multinational organizations and develop a relationship with their HR departments to allow you bring your food during their launch or within specific hours of the day.    

You can add special delivery of specialty food to busy executive as part of your service.

#7. Light Export

Do yo have relatives or friends living abroad?  Rather than always asking them to send you money why not develop a business partnership with them, supplying African food products. Let them help with identifying African shops and restaurants in their respective locations while you source and package the products that they need.

You send the products using air freights.  Africans in diaspora crave for Home foods that they miss so much.  What you can export is many: vegetables, fish, melon, chili pepper, etc., This is one way of earning dollars and beating domestic currency devaluation.

#8. Sale of Home Security Gadgets

Security is a big business and will ever remain so.  Setting up a full scale private security business can be rigorous.  It is a regulated sector and requires huge capital investment.  However, you can service the sector by buying and supplying personal security gadgets. Many homes and offices need these gadgets to secure their premises.  Security outfits use them to improve their services.

You will be selling security gadgets like car trackers, home alarm systems, CCTV cameras, stun guns, pepper spray, etc.  Take a further little step to learn how to install and service these gadgets, then you are even in bigger business.

This is one business you can do offline or online.  If you have a little more capital, set up a shop otherwise, you can also do this business from home.  But you will do a lot of marketing.  Once you get and service your first few customers, your business will set to boom with referral patronage.

#9. Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

This is related to our No. 1 business above (sale of drinks and water).  But in this one you will be selling liquour. Strictly alcoholic beverages, a variety of it like spirits, wine, champagne and cognac.  These beverages sell like crazy both in the cities or remote areas. And from my research, the margins are attractive compared to other consumer goods.

You may decide to niche down and sell only wine.  Retail wine selling is one of the most lucrative businesses any one can do.  But to do a successful wine business, requires you have some knowledge of the different kinds of wine; regular, exotic, vantage, etc.  This is important because you’ll also be offering your customers advice on the best wine to buy for specific occassions.

You can do this business at any scale depending on your financial capacity and the type of wine you want to sell.  However, starting with regular wine will get you into the door with low capital to cover cost of shop rental and initial stocks.  An investment of between N500,000 and N1,000,000 can get you started.

You can also do it completely online and in this case you will be needing lesser amount of money to start.  You’ll have to create an online store.  Advertise and supply to your customers by home delivery using the many delivery services providers around.

#10. Retail sale of Perfume Oil

Every body like to look and smell good.  And that is why perfum oil is in high demand. Perfume oils are simply undiluted perfumes.

They are essential oil blended with propylene glycol and undiluted fragrances.  Thus, perfume oil smells better and last longer than the regular perfume you buy from the supermarkets and big retail chains.

Beyond the strong sweet smell, selling perfume oil is a profitable business.  The idea is to buy from importers and repackage them in smaller bottles.  If you like rebrand them but don’t remix in order not to lose its power.

This is a business you can start with as little as NGN20,000 with the potential of making 100% profit per bottle.

#11. Sale of Building Materials

Nigerian is one of the African countries with the highest rate of urbanization. Add this to the huge population of over 200 million, you will understand while the sale of building material is a hot business idea.

The demand for shelter is huge and supply is limited. You will be supplying building materials for construction of residential housea, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, high rise building etc. Even the construction of public infrastructure such as roads, requires the use of building materials.

What type of building materials will you be supplying? It’s many and varied: cement, sand, stones, roofing sheet, doors, windows, iron rods. Name it.

Online/Digital Businesses

#12. Blogging

If you can write or have the capacity to learn how to write, you can start a blog in a niche of your interest.  Blogging has become one good way of launching an internet business.  It is popular and profitable if you get it right and what more, you can start with little or no capital. 

All you need is an internet access, a good research skill, a laptop and lot of time.  In fact your most important and perhaps expensive investment in a blogging career may be your time. Set up a free blog with wordpress or blogger.

Or if you have some money, set up your blog on self hosted server.  Populate it with quality content, get people to read your content (drive traffic), gain their confidence and monetize your blog with google adsense, display advert, affiliate marketing or sell information products such as ebooks, etc.

Blogging has made a lot of Nigerian youths millionaires but it is not as easy as it sounds, nothing good comes easy.  If you are prepared to learn, spend time, work hard and be patient, blogging will make you rich.

#13.  Information Marketing

This is another internet based business that has taken people out of poverty in Nigeria.  Do you know anything that people don’t know, or know something that other people know but can present it differently or know someone who knows something that others may not know?

You may be on your way to making money by packaging the information in the form of a report, an ebook, video, or audio and sell online. 

You can’t write? Don’t worry!

The market is massive and opportunity still growing.  You do not have to write it as there are many resources online to help you.  You can outsource the writing on fiverr.com, buy master resell right or private label rights books, rewrite and re brand to your choice and sell.

Selling information based products is what I call a money tree business because if done properly is capable of becoming your money tree that will continually bear you fruit for life.

In this eBook, The Money Tree Businesses – Simple But Highly Profitable Businesses You can Start to Make Money On Demand, you will learn more about Information Marketing and other simple businesses you can start from home, with little amount of investment and make ton of money for life.

#14. Affiliate Marketing

This lucrative online money making opportunity anyone can start with little or no investment.  An affiliate marketer is one who helps companies or individuals sell their products and earn commission. 

Products you can sell online here can be digital products or physical products. You can sign on with as many affiliate programmes as you can handle and use your affiliate links to promote the products through the social media or by creating dedicated websites.  Many people in Nigeria have become millionaires through affiliate programmes.

#15. Social Media Marketing

Social media has become an important tool that can drive not only the visibility of businesses but also their profitability.  It is increasingly becoming the first tool of choice that companies use to inform, persuade, educate, and promote their products and services. 

Indeed, some forward looking companies now have social media strategy as a full service function within their organization while some others outsource this service. 

This is why there is a growing need for people with social media marketing strategy and development skills. 

Take advantage of this development to learn the tricks of using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Online Forums and Blogs to sell goods and services and offer this to the many individuals and corporate organizations, including small businesses (SMEs) yearning to advantage of the opportunities offered by digital marketing.

#16. Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is gaining popularity as a profitable business model. Why wouldn’t it?  A business you can start with small amount of investment, with no inventory or any need to manage fulfillment, yet make tone of money in the process.

All you need to start a drop shipping business is a website, a drop shipping plugin or app, then find products to sell in your store from one of the popular e-commerce sites.  Many drop shippers source their products on Ali-express.

You can sell a variety of products as a drop shipper: shoes, bags, cosmetics, clothes, perfume oil, eye glasses, health products.  Just anything.

#17. Online Advertising Agency

Advertising is a critical aid to commerce. That is, it is one of the services that makes businesses successful.  Advertising promotes products and services, creates awareness and help generate sale.

In the past, only certified practioners can do the business of advertising because the print and electronic media would not accept an advert from some one who was not a member of approved advertising professional body.

However, with the Internet, advertising is somewhat democratised.  Online advertising is the use of the internet assets such as blogs, social media, websites, search engines, etc to communicate marketing messages for products and services.

Set up an agency to render this service.  Tgis is a business you can do completely from home with litle investment.  All you need is a laptop, a mobile phone and data subscription.

An essential skill you will need to achieve success in online advertising is perharps ability to write copy, key word research and funnel building.  Learn these skills and you are in business helping small and big business owners promote their products and services online.

Service Based Businesses

#18  Mobile Phone Repairs

Phone repairs business will fetch you good money if you are patient to learn how to repair and maintain mobile phones.  With less than N50,000 you can start a phone repair and maintenance business from the corner of your home.  All you need to start is a little training, a laptop, software tools, some regular home tools (screw driver, soldering iron, brush, battery tester, etc) and some marketing to let people know what you do.  You will also need to develop good relationship with dealers of quality accessories.  With less than N5,000 you can buy a complete repair kit from popular ecommerce stores paying with your Naira debit cards and set for business.

#19  Dry Cleaning and Laundry Services

This is again one of the small businesses that will continue to thrive for a very long time to come.

As people get busier and more women engage in work or business to assist in the family, the demand for services of dry cleaners will continue to be in the rise. 

This business has made some smart people millionaires and the good thing is that you can start very small even from home.  All you need is a washing machine, pressing table, good quality pressing iron, washing basin, and garment conveyor for keeping dry cleaned clothes. 

You can start by serving your neighborhood, your colleagues at work and other working class people.  Differentiate yourself by doing home deliveries and pick up, especially for your corporate staff clients.

#20 Car Wash

Car wash services has been one of the most popular small businesses in Nigeria for a long time.

The reason is that the need for car wash will always be on the rise and anybody can do this business irrespective of age.

With a little more capital, you can start a car wash that appeal to upwardly mobile individuals by setting up a sitting area decorated with TV set where your customer will sit while their cars are being washed. 

You can make it a multiple income stream business if you have the space  by adding the sale of drinks, shawama, etc at the sitting area.  The critical things needed for a car wash business is the space which can be rented, source of water and washing machine.

Also Read: Start A Car Wash Business And Smile to The Bank for a more detailed information on this business idea.

#21  Rental Services

People always need things that do not have.  Some of the things you can stock to rent out include chairs, canopies, vacuum cleaners, cutleries, cooking utensils, music box, ladder, etc.  The list is endless.  Once you are known to be engaged in this business in your environment, you may not be able to meet demand. 

If you have an interesting range of expensive gadgets or equipment, you might consider exploiting them for side income business hiring them out on hourly use basis.  If the business gets going, you can add more items as you discover what people like renting.  Prepare a leaflet, advertise in local newspaper or use the social media to announce your services.

#22 Website Design and Maintenance

Many businesses, both big and small, are going online.  Many high networth individuals like politicians, chieftains of corporate organizations and successful business people are now using online tools such as websites to promote their individual brands and personality.  This trend has increased the demand for website designers. 

If you learn how to use common design tools and build good websites, you are in for good business.  To be successful you need to need to know how to design professional websites, create web graphics, build web pages, and upload web pages to the server. 

Other skills you will need include domain name registration and how hosting services work.  As you gain capacity, you may add domain name registration and hosting to your service bouquet.

#23 Sports Betting Agency

Sports betting have become a goldmine in Nigeria as the young and old take advantage of their love for football to make money while enjoying the round leather game.  This also explains the reason there is an upsurge in sport betting companies (book makers). 

These sports betting companies cannot be everywhere and this is why they need agents who relate directly with betters. 

You will need a neat environment for an office space ( a shop will do), a generator, a computer, a printer, an internet connection And a fixtures board.  You will then sign an agency agreement with the bookmaker of your choice. 

With some companies, you make money in three ways, viz: board game, virtual game and deposit you make on behalf of your customers. With N250,000 you can sure be in this business and begin to smile to the bank.

#24 Viewing Centre

This business will continue to be good as long as the game of football keep developing and the crowd of football lovers continue to exist. What add to the fun of watching football matches in viewing centres is the debate to goes with fans of the opposing teams, though sometimes this gets nasty.

You can make serious money by establishing football viewing centres in your neighbourhood.  All you need is a space which can be carved out from your home or you operate from a rented shop, a TV set (large screen will serve the purpose best), DSTV decoder and subscription to  premium bouquet, a generator chairs and good lighting.

Also, make sure that the environment is well ventilated.  Because matches are not played every day or even every weekend, you may decide to monetize the free days by adding a game centre to your business.

#25. Business Writing Services

Do you have business writing skill? Why not set up a content writing service firm with speciality business documentation.  You will be helping micro, small and medium enterprises.

You will also be serving individuals who are going into businesses for the first time and require help with producing some needed documents.

What kind of documents will you be helping them with?  Many, varied and include: business plans, feasibility reports, business proposals, company profile, pitch deck, etc.  Other services you may be rendering include producing website content, blog posts.

Some business writers may choose to specialize in particular industry of aspect of business writing such finance, stock market, the economy, etc.  The key to success is to get sufficient business knowledge, hone your writing skills, build a portfolio and network very well to get clients.

You may start by creating a profile on freelance network services such as upwork and fiverr and then progress to directly pitching companies as you gain confidence and experience.

26. Book-Keeping Services

One of the major reasons many small businesses fail is inadequate record keeping or a lack of it.  Very oftern small business owners are not able to employ accountants or retain the services of one on contact basis.

Yet they are in dire need of good record keeping not only to survive.  This is where you come in as an independent book keeper.

Professional book-keepers help small and medium businesses keep records, track expenses, keep inventories, create and send invoices, prepare books of accounts and reconciling bank records.

You will certainly need to get some training and understanding of accounting and business.  You will need to understand the use of spreadsheet and acounting softwares.

A little more efforts at getting qualified in some type of book-keeping certification will help you prepare adequately if you want to make a success of this business.

Other services you can add to your regular book-keeping services may include helping your client register their businesses at CAC, tax computation and processing of TCC, etc.  All these are important and high in demand needs for small businesses.

#27. Translation Services

Big and small organizations, entrepreneurs and HNIs conduct cross border businesses.  One challenge that these businessmen encounter is language and that’s where translation services providers come in.

They provide a critical service in making communication between and amongst businesses people from different cultures and languages easy.

If you are skilled or have the ability to read and write one international language such as French, Chinese, Dutch, etc., you will do well to set up a translation service directed at the international community in your country,

You will be translatng business documents for them.  For example, translate contract from French to English and vice visa. It could be basic, standard, technical and marketing documents.

Good translators are scarce and always in high demand and they charge high for their services.

Light and Process Manufacturing

The light industry describes any manufacturing or construction activity that doesn’t involve the deployment of heavy production equipment. Such activities are not usually capital intensive, meaning that you can start these businesses with small amount of investment.

#28. Plantain Chips Making And Sales

You have seen it everywhere; that crunchy snack made from plantain.  Hawkers sell it in traffic and along the highways but what you may not know is that it is a big money making business for those who produce it.  What else, you don’t need to be a UAC or Leventis Food to engage in plantain chip business. A small-scale plantain chip enterprise with an initial investment of say, N50,000 is capable of returning N10,000 in profit on a daily basis.

You can do this business from your kitchen with a little expense to print your branded pack.  You will need to get some coaching from someone already doing the business, learn some recipe and develop a supply chain both for your raw materials (plantain) and finished products.

#29. Ice block Production and Sale

Nigeria is located within the tropical climate region with abundance of sunlight and heat. The weather is mostly hot and people always need cold refreshing water to drink and keep their systems hydrated.

Unfortunately, electricity supply is very poor, making it difficult for homes to maintain adequate stock of cold water in their refrigerators.  This is what makes ice block production a money spinning business to do.  People require ice block to keep their water and drink cold.  It is needed at all times especially during the hot season which is experienced about 300 days out of the 365 days of the year in Africa.

Your market includes households around your neighborhood, retail shops, restaurants and bars that need to keep their drinks iced cold at all times.   

Party organizers also constitute your market and this occurs every weekend in the cities. The beauty of this business is that you can start small with what you have already.  If you have a deep freezer and a medium sized generator, then you are good to go.  As you make money, you can scale up by acquiring ice block making machine.

#30. Liquid Soap Production

The market for liquid soap is so enormous that the established brands are not meeting demand.  It is a product that is needed by every household and as the population increases, so also will be the demand. 

If you look around you, you will find homemade liquid soaps with no branding at all, packaged in plastic bottles selling for between N50 and N100.  With a little investment, you can make so much money producing liquid soap. You sell to supermarkets and other shops that retail to end users, restaurants, bakers, caterers and home keepers.

You may have to acquire some training which is available at vocational centres run by churches, government and non-governmental organizations. Create a large market by branding and fine packaging and you will smile to the bank.

Final Words

Now you have it.  30 Small Businesses You Can Start Right Now With Little Capital.  These are just highlights.  You will need to do proper studies of any of the ideas that interest you before you take the plunge. 

If you require our input in terms of feasibility studies, business plan preparation, field investigation or business registration, feel free to contact us. 

We shall also be doing more detailed write up on some of the small businesses highlighted here in future posts, so keep visiting us here or better still subscribe to our mailing list for updates.

Have any business idea, please share it with us.

Buchi creates content and leads the Team at Kobotalk Management Services; a business development and investment consultancy firm. He provides strategic advisory to help SME's, small business owners and HNI's grow profitable business and make informed investing decisions.

5 Comments on “30 Small Businesses You Can Start With Little Capital in Nigeria”

    1. Nigeria has a vibrant cashew nut market. The country produces about 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per year and has the potential to produce 500,000 tonnes. Almost 90% of what the country produces is exported in its raw form.

      Huge investment opportunity exist in processing. Intensively processed nuts will increase export value and by-products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 5 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.